The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Friday said airlines could put a passenger on the no-fly list if he refused to wear a face mask – considered a vital safeguard against the coronavirus – on board, reported Hindustan Times. In India, wearing masks in public is compulsory.

“Flyers, who refuse to wear face masks during a flight can be put on the no-fly list,” said DGCA Director-General Arun Kumar. He added that the period for which a passenger would be barred from flying would depend on the assessment by the cabin crew.

Meanwhile, an unidentified official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation had confirmed the same to PTI on Thursday but had said that no new order has been passed in this regard. As per rules, an airline can choose to put an “unruly passenger” on its no-fly list after internal deliberations.

India’s coronavirus tally on Friday rose to 33,87,500 after a record 77,266 new infections in the last 24 hours. The country’s toll went up by 1,057 to 61,529.

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Centre allows in-flight meal services

Airlines can now serve pre-packed snacks, meals and beverages on domestic flights and hot meals on international flights, according to an official order issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Thursday. It has also permitted aircraft operators to allow passengers to use the in-flight entertainment system on international and domestic flights.

Meals services were suspended even after domestic flights resumed operations on May 25 while on international flights, only pre-packed cold meals and snacks were being served depending on the flight duration.

“Airlines may serve pre-packed snacks/meals/pre-packed beverages on domestic flights depending on the duration of flight,” read the civil aviation ministry’s order. On international flights, operators can “serve hot meals and limited beverages as per the standard practices”, it added.

Only single-use disposable trays, plates and cutlery should be used while serving food or beverages in domestic and international flights. “Crew shall wear a fresh set of gloves for every meal/beverage service,” said the ministry.

Regarding offering in-flight entertainment systems, the ministry said that only “disposable earphones or cleaned and disinfected headphones” are to be given to passengers at the start of the journey.

India had banned international commercial flights on March 23, two days before the government imposed a complete lockdown in the country in a bid to control the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has been operating international flights under “Mission Vande Bharat” since May 6, to bring back stranded Indians from abroad. The mission is currently in its fifth phase.

Since July, India has established air bubbles with the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the Maldives. The government is negotiating such arrangements with 13 more countries – Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

Some domestic flight operations were allowed to restart on May 25.